Economic and Social Department

 global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

 food outlook
No. 2 Rome, April 2003

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Current Production and Crop Prospects


Carryover Stocks

Export Prices


Food Aid

Cereal Import Bills


Meat and Meat Products

Milk and Milk Products


Appendix Tables


Current Production and Crop Prospects

Position by Region




Far East: Harvesting of the 2003 wheat crop is due to begin in April and will continue until June. Prolonged dry weather throughout the growing period since October is expected to result in a reduced harvest in the region. Lack of rain caused droughts in some localized areas in western India, northern China and in southern Pakistan. However, heavy rains received in February in Pakistan have improved the situation for the irrigated crops. In China production of winter wheat is forecast to decline, for the fifth consecutive year, by some 4 percent compared to last year to 81.3 million tonnes. Much of the expected reduction is attributed to reduced plantings as a result of low wheat prices. The domestic market is under downward pressure due to declining per capita consumption of wheat and large stocks accumulated from previous bumper harvest years. There also has been a switch to other more profitable crops such as rapeseed. Even though the total acreage under wheat has been decreasing in China, the area under high quality wheat has been increasing substantially. Winter wheat accounts for over 90 percent of the total in the country, the remainder coming from spring wheat planted in March/April. In India, wheat output in 2003 is forecast to decline by 4 percent from last year to 68.9 million tonnes, the lowest level in the last 5 years and 10 percent below the record harvest in 2000. By contrast, generally favourable weather conditions in Pakistan point to a good harvest of 20.7 million tonnes, some 8 percent higher than in 2002 but below the record level of 22 million tonnes in 2000. The 2003 wheat harvest in the Islamic Republic of Iran is forecast at just over 10 million tonnes. This would be about the same as the 5 year average but nearly 2.3 million tonnes below the record harvest last year.

Prospects for the 2003 coarse grain crops, the bulk of which have still to be planted in the coming months, are still mostly uncertain. In China, total plantings are expected to decline due to Government efforts to control grain output and reduce huge stocks. However, assuming normal weather, the total output is expected to remain more or less at last year’s level due to increasing emphasis on high-yielding crops. China’s output of coarse grains (mostly maize) in 2002 is now estimated at 134 million tonnes, nearly 9 million tonnes above the 2001 level. In India, assuming a return to a normal monsoon after last year’s drought, and given high domestic maize prices, plantings should increase significantly and yields should recover. Poor monsoon rains last year reduced India’s 2002 coarse grains output substantially to about 25.1 million tonnes, 9.6 million tonnes down from the record harvest in 2001 and the lowest production in three decades.

In the southern hemisphere and along the equatorial belt, countries are about to gather their main 2003 paddy crops. In Indonesia, which harvests more than half of overall production between January and April, some delay is likely because of drought-related problems at planting last October, while subsequent flood problems caused some losses in the main producing Java island. Paddy production this season has been officially forecast at 51.4 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the revised estimate for 2002. Rising production costs have prompted the government to raise paddy support prices by 14 percent in 2003 and to consider the introduction of subsidies on basic agricultural inputs.

World Cereal Production

 WheatCoarse grainsRice (paddy)Total
 20022003 forecast20022003 forecast20022003 forecast20022003 forecast
 (million tonnes)
Central America3.23.027.729.02.32.433.234.4
South America18.320.764.567.519.620.3102.4108.5
North America59.781.3264.9292.49.69.8334.2383.5
WORLD 571.0 591.5 875.6 908.0 578.7 591.6 2 025.3 2 091.2
      (387)1/ (395)1/ (1 833)2/ (1 895)2/
Developing countries264.0258.6366.8374.5553.1566.9 1 183.9 1 200.0
Developed countries307.0332.9508.8533.525.624.8841.4891.2
Source: FAO 1/ Milled rice. 2/ Including milled rice. Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Excellent weather conditions in Malaysia have boosted expectations for a bumper crop of 2.5 million tonnes, surpassing the 2.3 million tonne record last season. Prospects are also very good in Sri Lanka, which is in the process of harvesting the main Maha paddy crop, as the peace process encouraged an expansion of the area. The official estimate of production in 2002, at 2.9 million tonnes, suggests a full recovery from the 2001 depressed level. A further increase is forecast for the current season.

In the northern hemisphere, paddy production in Bangladesh continues on a strong expansionary path, having experienced uninterrupted growth since 1997. In 2002, the country’s output rose by over 4 percent to 39.5 million tonnes, reflecting mainly a sizeable increase in the rainfed Aman crop. Pending the release of the Government target, production in 2003 is preliminarily forecast to rise further to 39.8 million tonnes, supported by the current high prices prevailing in the country.

The estimate of 2002 paddy production in China (mainland) has been reduced by 1.0 million tonnes to 174.7 million tonnes, the lowest level in 14 years. Reacting to changes in policies, many farmers have been moving from a double crop pattern to a single crop and are diversifying towards more remunerative crops. As a result, in 2002 the output from the intermediate rice crop expanded, while that of the early and late crops shrank. The falling trend is foreseen to continue into 2003, with overall output forecast at 171 million tonnes, 2 percent less than last season. Output could also decline in the Chinese Province of Taiwan, where the government is considering promoting some land set aside in response to reduced water availability resulting from drought last autumn.

In 2002, India’s production fell by 16 percent to 116.6 million tonnes, 3.5 million tonnes down from the previous estimate and the lowest level since 1995. This poor outturn reflects an irregular monsoon pattern, which depressed the rainfed Kharif crop, and reduced water reservoirs for the irrigated Rabi crop. FAO’s forecast for the current season points to a partial recovery to 130 million tonnes.

A surge in output in 2003 to 7.1 million tonnes is expected in Pakistan, where torrential rains in February brought relief to drought stricken areas and replenished water reserves. In 2002, the country harvested 6.6 million tonnes of paddy, up 14 percent from the 2001 drought-reduced level, but still well below the 7 to 8 million tonnes per annum produced between 1998 and 2000.

Paddy output in the Philippines is officially forecast to rise by 1 percent to a record 13.2 million tonnes in July-June 2002/03, despite the recurrence of El Niño, which resulted in below normal rainfall in the third quarter of 2002 and expectations of poor precipitation until the second quarter of 2003, which have reportedly depressed plantings. Continued yield gains associated with government dissemination of improved rice varieties and technologies lay behind the strong rise in output, a factor which should continue to influence production during the current season.

Based on new official estimates, production in Thailand fell by 2 percent in 2002 to 25.9 million tonnes, reflecting the adverse weather conditions that reduced the main crop, especially in the north-eastern region. During the whole season, producer prices have been sustained by a large-scale government procurement programme, which targeted a purchase of 3.5 million tonne from the main crop, between November and February. The programme was recently extended to cover another 2 million tonnes from the 2002 secondary crop between March and July. Assuming a return to a normal weather pattern, Thailand’s production is anticipated to recover in 2003.

By contrast, only a partial recovery is anticipated in the Republic of Korea, where cultivation was hindered by torrential rains last August and by typhoon Rusa. Under current efforts to curb the large rice surplus accumulated by the country, the Government recently proposed to cut paddy support prices by 2 percent, along with deeper structural reforms aimed at enhancing the sector’s competitiveness.

In Viet Nam, the first winter/spring 2003 paddy crop is being harvested in the southern part of the country, under excellent conditions. With the close of the 2002 season, production has been confirmed to have reached an all-time high of 34.1 million tonnes, mainly reflecting the good weather conditions that prevailed during the season, which boosted yields. The Government recently announced a new Development Strategy for the Agricultural Sector to 2010, which points to a stabilization of the area under rice and the designation of special zones targeted to producing rice for export.

Near East: Good rains and snow cover in the past few months have improved prospects for 2003 wheat output in Afghanistan. In Syria, Jordan and Israel, recent unseasonal rains and snow cover have improved prospects for the 2003 cereal crop to be harvested in April/May. Similarly in Turkey, heavy rains and snow received in the last month are expected to be beneficial for the wheat crop, to be harvested from June. Prospects for cereal crops are however uncertain in Iraq where war and displacement may affect the agricultural sector this year.

There is little activity in the Islamic Republic of Iran where the paddy crop was harvested in October. Estimate of output in 2002 remains at 2.7 million tonnes, reflecting strong gains in the main producing Provinces of Mazandaran and Gilan. Besides the ending of the drought, which gripped the country in 2000 and 2001, high support prices have also sustained the sector’s growth.

Based on the latest released statistics, paddy production in Kazakhstan grew marginally in 2002 to 199.2 thousand tonnes, despite a 5 percent contraction in cultivation, since improved and more timely distribution of basic inputs boosted yields.

CIS in Asia: Output of wheat in the 8 CIS countries in Asia in 2003 is forecast at about 30 million tonnes, which is about 9 percent lower than the crop in 2002. The harvest in Kazakhstan, the main cereal exporter in the region, is forecast to decline, owing to above-average winter-kill and a reduced area under cereals, particularly in the northern new-lands of the country. Regarding coarse gr ains, latest information points to an aggregate output of about 4.6 million tonnes for the region, mainly barley (2.7 million tonnes) and maize (1.4 million tonnes). This would be about 10 percent lower than the previous year but 9 percent above the average of the previous five years. However, much will depend on spring and summer precipitation, snow-melt and water availability for irrigation in late spring and summer.



Northern Africa: The outlook is generally favourable for the 2003 wheat crops in the subregion. Harvest is due to start from May, and a strong recovery with respect to the 2002 drought-affected crops is anticipated, provided normal weather conditions prevail in the coming months. In Algeria, dry weather conditions in the first half of March are reported; however, normal to abundant widespread rains in January and February greatly benefited the crops. Wheat output is tentatively forecast at about 1.4 million tonnes, which compares to last year’s below-average production of 1.1 million tonnes. In Egypt, where the wheat crop is largely irrigated, an average production is expected. In Morocco, normal to abundant rains from December through February have benefited the crops and an above-average wheat output is provisionally forecast. In Tunisia, the above-normal rains in January helped fill water reservoirs. The state of the crops is good and production is expected to be average, a significant increase from last year’s low wheat output.

Prospects for the coarse grain crops are also good, and production for the subregion as a whole in 2003 is provisionally forecast to be some 5 percent above the average of the past 5 years at about 10.5 million tonnes. Planting of the 2003 rice crop in Egypt will commence in April. Production in 2002 is estimated at 6 million tonnes, up from 5.2 million tonnes in the previous season. Rice continues to be a profitable crop for producers and, although planting remains subject to area ceilings, these are generally not enforced.

Western Africa: The rainy season is starting in the southern part of the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, allowing land preparation and planting of the first maize crop. Cereal harvests in 2002 were generally good, except in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, affected by civil disturbances.

In the Sahelian countries, seasonably dry conditions prevail and planting should begin in June/July with the start of the rainy season. Following the release of final 2002 production estimates in several countries, the aggregate output of cereals of the 9 CILSS member countries has been revised upwards to 11.45 million tonnes (including paddy rice) from 11.32 million tonnes initially estimated by the FAA/CILSS Crop Assessment Mission in October/November 2002. This is about 12 percent above the average for the last five years. However, output is estimated to be below average in Cape Verde, The Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal.

In western Africa, planting of the 2003 paddy season is about to start. Overall, the 2002 season is estimated to have ended with little change from the previous year’s crop. Good weather conditions sustained production in Nigeria and Burkina Faso. By contrast, the late start of the season depressed production in Senegal, the Gambia and Mali. Cote d’Ivoire also experienced a contraction in output in 2002, reflecting the internal conflict since September and the departure of migrant labour, which makes an important contribution to the rice fieldwork. In Mauritania, where harvesting is in progress, drought conditions seriously reduced rice crops, except in the irrigated schemes.

Central Africa: A good cereal harvest has been gathered in Cameroon. In the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, the persistent civil conflicts and subsequent population displacements continue to adversely affect the agriculture and food situation.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of 2003 wheat crop is about to start in Sudan. Higher than normal temperatures, recorded in many parts of the country, is expected to adversely affect yields. Planting of the wheat crop in Kenya and Ethiopia is scheduled in the next two months.

The subregion’s aggregate wheat output in 2002 is preliminarily estimated at 1.6 million tonnes, about 17 percent below the previous year and 15 percent below the average for the previous five years. In Ethiopia, the wheat crop is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes, 22 percent down from the previous year, reflecting dry and erratic weather during the season. In the Sudan, wheat output declined 18 percent to 247 000 tonnes.

Harvesting of the 2002/03 secondary season coarse grains is complete in the subregion, except in Ethiopia. FAO’s latest estimate puts the subregion’s aggregate output in 2002/03 at 18 million tonnes, 12 percent below the good crop in the previous year and 9 percent below the average for the previous five years. In Ethiopia, late and erratic rains during the season, resulted in a 25 percent drop in coarse grains output from the good crop of 2001 to 5.6 million tonnes. In Sudan, coarse grain production declined by nearly 30 percent from the previous year. This is mainly due to a significant reduction in the area under irrigated sorghum, largely an adjustment from the unusually large expansion in 2001 mainly in response to a Government inducement. In Eritrea, the 2002 coarse grains were affected by a severe drought and output is estimated to have declined by nearly 80 percent to just 44 000 tonnes. In Kenya, the 2002/03 maize output is forecast at 2.3 million tonnes, about 16 percent below the previous year’s crop but slightly above average. In Tanzania, drought conditions in parts may have affected the 2003 secondary season “vuli” crop. In Uganda, the 2002 main season crop was reduced as a result of displacement and dry weather. Similarly the recently harvested second season crop was also affected by delayed rains and displacement. In Somalia, the recently harvested secondary “deyr” season cereal production is estimated at about 165 000 tonnes, almost 80 percent above the average deyr production for the period (1995-2001). Generally the deyr season provides 25-30 percent of annual cereal production, however this year the contribution has risen to nearly 44 percent of the annual cereal production in southern Somalia. The main “gu” season crop in southern Somalia, harvested last August/September, is estimated at about 209 000 tonnes, well above the relatively poor crop in 2001.

Southern Africa: Early prospects for the 2003 wheat crop, to be planted from May, are uncertain reflecting an expected 10 percent reduction in plantings in the largest producer South Africa, in response to lower prices than last year and dryer conditions in some areas. In Zimbabwe, wheat production is forecast to remain reduced as a result of land reform activities. The subregion's aggregate production of wheat in 2002 is estimated by FAO at 2.6 million tonnes, some 10 percent below the previous year's level but still average, reflecting lower plantings and yields.

The outlook for the 2003 coarse grains is overall favourable. Abundant rains since mid-February, particularly in areas previously affected by dry spells and erratic precipitation, improved conditions of developing crops. Preliminary FAO forecast point to an aggregate output of the main maize crop, of 14.8 millions, almost unchanged from both last year’s and the average levels. In South Africa, the largest producer of the subregion, maize production is forecast at 9.1 million tonnes, almost 1 million tonnes less than the revised level of 2002, but still average. By contrast, production is expected to recovery in most other countries of the subregion, except in Zimbabwe, where rains in February arrived to late to reverse crop conditions affected by prolonged dry weather during the growing season. Further planting reductions in the commercial sector and shortages of agricultural inputs are also anticipated to result in another sharply reduced coarse grain crop. In Malawi, official forecast point to a normal maize crop of 2 million tonnes, against 1.5 million tonnes last year. Despite a delay in the start of the rainy season and localized floods, abundant precipitation during the growing season, coupled with record levels of free agricultural inputs distribution, benefited crop development. In Zambia, cumulative precipitation since the beginning of the rainy season has been normal to above normal in most provinces. Crops are reported in good conditions and overall prospects for the harvest are favourable. In the Southern Province, previously affected by dry weather, abundant rains since mid-February significantly improved crop conditions, although localized floods and crop losses are reported. In Mozambique, another good coarse grain output is anticipated reflecting abundant rains in the main growing areas of the north. However, production will be sharply reduced for the second consecutive year in southern provinces affected by drought and floods. In Angola, the outlook for the harvest is satisfactory as a result of an increase in the area planted, following the end of hostilities, and favourable weather conditions. In Namibia, abundant rains in the second part of the season benefited coarse grains and an average crop, well above last year’s reduced level, is anticipated. In Swaziland, an overall good cereal crop is expected this year but in the Lowleveld region production is forecast to be reduced by dry weather early in the season. In Lesotho, good rains in the past month have improved prospects for this year’s coarse grains crops and a general satisfactory output is expected. In Madagascar, maize production in southern areas is anticipated to be reduced following prolonged dry weather during the season.

Most rice producing countries in the subregion are about to harvest their 2003 crops. In Madagascar, heavy precipitation in January, followed by Typhoon Fari, was reported to have caused flooding on about 70 percent of the paddy fields in Antananarivo, which accounts for some 20 percent of production. With the harvest season due to begin in April in the region, crop losses might eventually be large. Drought conditions on the other hand prevailed in the southern part of the country, also constraining output. Similarly, tropical cyclone Japhet hit southern Mozambique early in March, which compounded the problems caused by insufficient and erratic rains in the southern and central parts of the country. Thus, the preliminary outlook for the paddy crop which will be harvested between April and May is rather poor.

Central America and the Caribbean


Dry weather conditions have prevailed in the past few weeks throughout the irrigated wheat producing areas in the north west of Mexico. Inadequate water levels are reported for some of the main reservoirs in the important cereal growing states of Sinaloa and Sonora. Harvest of the 2003 wheat crop is about to start and a below average output of some 3 million tonnes is tentatively forecast.

Land is being prepared for planting of the 2003 first season coarse grain crops in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Dry weather conditions, typical of the season, are reported. Sowing should start with the arrival of the first rains, which are usually due by late April. Average to above-average crops of maize, (the main coarse grain), were collected in 2002 and adequate stocks of seeds for planting this year are reported. In Mexico, planting of the minor 2002/03 fall/winter maize crop is virtually complete while planting of the important 2003 spring/summer crop is about to start. Total maize plantings in 2003 are provisionally forecast at an average 7.6 million hectares, but below the near record 8 million hectares planted in 2002. The decline partly reflects financial constraints to the farm sector. In the Caribbean, in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, normal weather conditions are benefiting planting of the 2003 first season maize crops. In Haiti, sowing of the 2003 maize crop has also started.

The 2003 paddy season has just commenced in several countries, but little information is available yet on planting intentions. Seeding of the main crop is proceeding in the Dominican Republic, under generally good weather conditions. The country is estimated to have harvested a new record of 740 000 tonnes in 2002, sustained by strong government support. A further expansion is expected in 2003. Cuba also confirmed to have gathered 290 000 tonnes, which is 9 percent more than in 2001. The increase reflects gains by private farms and cooperatives since state farms, which account for about one-quarter of production, experienced some decline. Planting of the main season crop is already well advanced in Mexico. Since 1997, production in the country has steadily declined, with a 15 percent fall recorded in 2002 alone, reflecting to a large extent increased import competition. Recently, however, the Government announced the launching of a large support programme for agriculture, which could facilitate a recovery in the sector in 2003.

South America


Land preparation has started for planting of the 2003 wheat crop from June in Argentina, while sowing has started in the main wheat producing southern areas in Brazil. Increased plantings with respect to the 5-year average are anticipated in the latter country, reflecting the government incentive programme to augment production and thus reduce dependence on imports. In Chile and Uruguay, land has also been prepared for planting of the 2003 wheat crop from May. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, recent heavy rains and flooding in the eastern Department of Santa Cruz have affected the development of the 2003 wheat crops. In Peru, planting of the 2003 wheat crop continues and the intended area planted should be close to the above-average level reached in 2002.

Harvesting of the 2003 coarse grain crops, principally maize, is underway in Argentina. Growing conditions are reported to be normal and about 19 percent of the maize crop had been harvested by the end of the first week of March. Production is tentatively forecast at about 14.5 million tonnes slightly below last-year’s harvest of 14.7 million tonnes and below the 5-year average which stands at 15.9 million tonnes. In Brazil, harvesting of the 2003 first maize crop (main crop) is well advanced and a satisfactory output of 32.1 million tonnes is officially forecast, compared with an earlier forecast of some 29.8 million tonnes. The revision of the forecast is principally due to higher reported yields being collected than earlier expected. Planting of the 2003 second maize crop (“zafrihna”) has just started in the southern areas under favourable weather conditions. In Chile, harvesting of the 2003 maize crop has begun and an above-average output is tentatively forecast, while in Uruguay, where harvesting is also underway, an average outturn is expected. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, the developing coarse grain crops has been affected by drought mainly in the central and southern departments while those grown in the highlands were damaged by excessive rains and floods. In Ecuador, harvest of the 2003 main (winter) crop yellow maize crop, mainly grown in the coastal areas, is due to start from April. The crops had been affected by heavy rains in early February, but the outlook is nevertheless favourable as normal weather conditions have resumed. In Peru, where maize is grown all year around, planting of the 2003 yellow maize crop is underway while the bulk of the planting operations of the white maize crop has been completed. In Colombia, harvesting of the 2002 second season maize crop has been completed and maize production in 2002 has been an above-average 1.2 million tonnes. Planting of 2003 first season maize crops has started in some parts. In Venezuela, land is in preparation for planting of the 2003 cereal crops to be started from April, with the bulk of the sowing operations taking place between May and July.

Gathering of the 2003 paddy crop has started in South America. In Argentina, 26 percent of the planted area was reportedly harvested by 7 March, with progress somewhat hindered by heavy rainfall in the northeast. The country is forecast to achieve an 8 percent increase in output this season to 770 000 tonnes, resulting from a partial recovery in plantings. Nonetheless, production remains well below the levels recorded between 1995 and 2001. In Brazil, strong competition from soybeans has brought about a small overall contraction of the area under rice in the current season. However, as prices subsequently became more buoyant, application of inputs improved, which is expected to trigger strong gains in yields, especially in the northeast and north regions. As a result, CONAB has forecast paddy output at 11.1 million tonnes, 4 percent more than in 2002. Plantings in Chile were reported to have expanded by close to 2 percent this season, which may lead to a production of 145 000 tonnes in 2003. By contrast, irregular rainfall in Ecuador last February reportedly delayed plantings, which might dampen the size of the production recovery. In 2002, the country faced flooding and excessive precipitation, resulting in a production shortfall. In Peru, planting of the new season crop was completed in February and prospects for the current season point to some recovery, reflecting adequate water availability. Last season, torrential rains at planting time in February resulted in a smaller area, contributing to the country’s 16 percent production shortfall. The outlook for the 2003 season in Uruguay is also positive, although production is not expected to rise to the high levels observed in 1999 and 2000.

North America


In the United States, wheat output is set to increase significantly in 2003 after declining for four years in succession. The winter wheat plantings are officially estimated at 17.9 million hectares, 6 percent up from the previous year. Little change is expected in the spring wheat plantings. However, the 2003 production depends largely also on the final area harvested and the yield. At this stage, an official forecast based on average results, puts the total harvested area at about 21.6 million hectares, some 16 percent up from the previous year’s exceptionally low area. Assuming average yields also, which would be a significant improvement over last year’s low levels, the total wheat crop is forecast at 56.2 million tonnes, about 28 percent up from last year. However, with many major producing parts still suffering from exceptionally dry conditions in the past few months some significant rains are still needed in the coming weeks to ensure a recovery in yields this year. In Canada, the bulk of the 2003 wheat crop is due to be sown from May to June. The area planted is expected to increase significantly, in a recovery from last year’s drought reduced level, but also reflecting the increased incentive for farmers of relatively strong prices in the 2002/03 season. Assuming a return to normal weather conditions this year, yields should also recover sharply from last year’s drought-reduced levels and the total wheat harvest is forecast to exceed 25 million tonnes, up more than 10 million tonnes from last year’s low level.

In the United States some early coarse grains crops are already in the ground in southern parts, but the bulk of the maize planting in the Corn Belt states takes place from late April. Early indications point to an increase in maize plantings this year, and assuming an improvement in yields after last year’s low level, a significant increase in production is envisaged. In Canada, the bulk of the coarse grains crops will be sown in May-June. Early indications point to increased plantings of barley and oats.

In the United States, a recovery in rice plantings and steady gains in productivity are forecast to restore rice production in 2003 to close to the 2001 record of 9.8 million tonnes.



In the EU, early indications suggest that the cereal output in 2003 will change little from that in the previous year. The aggregate wheat area is likely to be down after estimated reductions in France and Germany, the two biggest producers, and relatively unchanged plantings elsewhere. Yield prospects remain somewhat uncertain and will hinge largely on the weather in the coming weeks. Recent cold weather in northern Europe has dampened prospects in France and the United Kingdom but in Germany, after below average yields in 2002, a recovery this year is still likely. As of mid-March FAO forecast the EU aggregate wheat output just marginally less than in 2002 at about 103 million tonnes. For coarse grains, much will depend on the outcome of spring/summer planting, which is only just starting. Early indications suggest that the area dedicated to barley should increase with larger plantings expected in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. However, overall, output of coarse grains in the EU in 2003 is tentatively forecast to remain similar to the previous year’s level at about 107 million tonnes.

Among the central and eastern European countries (CEECs), prospects for the winter cereal crops are unfavourable in several parts, reflecting adverse autumn and winter sowing conditions. However, the outlook remains generally favourable in Hungary and Romania, two of the largest producing CEECs.

In Bulgaria, the winter wheat area is officially reported to be about 900 000 hectares, down on the average of about 1 million hectares. Prospects for the spring cereal planting are favourable, with soil moisture reserves generally improved compared to the previous year’s situation. In the Czech Republic, wet conditions at planting time caused the winter grain area to fall by some 100 000 hectares to about 700 000 hectares and large areas of dormant crops were stressed by flooding as a result of heavy rain in early January. In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the area planted to winter cereals, mainly wheat and barley, is similar to last year, and winter crops are reportedly in satisfactory condition.

The winter wheat area in Hungary is estimated to be similar to that of the previous year. However, the condition of the crop is reported to be significantly better, pointing to an increase in production from last year's below average level, should the weather be normal during the remainder of the season. In Poland, official estimates put the overall winter grain area at 4.4 million hectares, 3.5 percent down from the previous year. Of the total, winter wheat accounts for 1.9 million hectares, just marginally down from last year’s area. In Romania, the total wheat area is estimated at about 2.1 million hectares, similar to the previous year's area, and with the bulk of the crop planted within the optimum date the yields prospects are good. Official reports target the 2003 wheat output at about 7 million tonnes. In the Slovak Republic, cereal production looks set to be significantly reduced this year. The wheat area is estimated to be sharply down from normal and weather conditions throughout the winter were unfavourable for the dormant crops and.

According to the latest official estimates, rice production in the EU rose by 2 percent in 2002 to 2.6 million tonnes, supported by excellent yields. Most of the increase in output was concentrated in Greece and Italy, while production contracted in France, Portugal and Spain. Little change is currently expected for the coming season’s crop, which will be planted in the coming months. The reform of the rice policy regime proposed by the EU Commission is still under review by state members.

In the European CIS, severely cold weather conditions and inadequate snow cover have compromised the prospects for the winter cereals. In the Russian Federation the area sown to winter grains fell compared to the previous year and winter-kill is estimated at more than 2 million hectares. The aggregate winter cereal harvest, mainly wheat, rye and barley, is likely to decline by some 10 million tonnes this year compared with 2002. Also in Ukraine, the winter crop sowing fell and damage during the winter has been significantly higher than average. It is estimated that nearly 1.6 million hectares of cereals may need to be replanted in spring. The winter cereal harvest is seen to decline by about 2.8 million tonnes compared with the harvest last year.

According to the latest official estimate, paddy production in the Russian Federation fell by close to 3 percent in 2002 to 483 000 tonnes. The country recently announced its intention to introduce import quotas to protect producers from low international prices



In Australia, planting of the main 2003 wheat and coarse grains crops is due to start in May. Early official forecasts indicate a significant recovery in winter grain production after a severely drought-reduced crop in 2002. After a significant sell-off of livestock due to drought last year, and reflecting relatively favourable prices, producers are expected to put most resources into crop production this year. However, this forecast assumes a return to normal weather soon, and the arrival of significant rains for planting and establishment of the crops. From late February there have already been signs that the prolonged dry period was breaking with significant to heavy rains across many eastern parts, which have already helped to replenish some of the soil moisture deficit. However the rains were too late to benefit any of the current 2002/03 summer coarse grains crops and their output is still expected to significantly reduced as was that of the winter grain crops harvested earlier.

In Australia, harvesting of the 2003 paddy crop is in progress. Reflecting the prolonged El Niño-induced drought throughout the season, production is officially forecast to fall to 370 000 tonnes, down from 1.3 million tonnes in 2001 and the lowest level in more than two decades.

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